A Clogged Coil Can Make Your A/C Lose Its Cool

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The evaporator coil is the unsung hero of your A/C system. It absorbs the latent heat in your home's indoor air and carries it away using its refrigerant as a transfer medium. The end result is cool, conditioned air that can be circulated back into your home.

In order for this process to go without a hitch, it's important to keep the evaporator coil free of any mold, mildew, dust and/or debris. When the evaporator coil gets clogged with junk, it can cut down your A/C system's cooling performance and even cause unneeded wear and tear on other A/C components. Keeping your evaporator coil clean should be an important priority regardless of how much you use your A/C system.

How to Properly Clean the Evaporator Coil

Before you get started, always make sure power to the air conditioner is turned off. You can do this by locating and flipping the circuit breaker or main power switch to the "off" position. Afterwards, locate the evaporator coil's access panel on the A/C unit's plenum. You may have to remove numerous screws or peel back metal tape in order to access the panel.

Once you have the panel off and have clear access to the coil, there are a few ways you can tackle the cleaning process. The first involves a little soap and water:

  • Add some warm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle and mix the two together.
  • Spray the solution onto the coils and allow it to sit for a few minutes so it can soak into some of the more stubborn debris.
  • Afterwards, use a soft-bristle brush to carefully scrub away any mold or debris from the evaporator coil. Be sure not to scrub too hard, otherwise you'll damage the fragile fins on the evaporator coil.

The second method involves using a no-rinse foaming agent. It's the way to go if you don't want to have any physical contact with the evaporator coil. Simply spray the foaming agent on the evaporator coil and allow it to sit. The foam will break down, taking with it the debris and mold on your evaporator coil. If necessary, you can reapply the foaming agent until the evaporator coil is completely clean.

If you're only dealing with a light coating of dust, you can use compressed air to blow away dust and dislodge larger debris chunks. Make sure to aim the compressed air at a 90-degree angle to prevent damage to the coil fins. You may also want a wet/dry shop vacuum running to suck up the dust being dislodged.

Don't forget to inspect and clean the condensate drip pan as well as the condensate drain. You'll need to make sure it's dry and empty before you replace the access cover.

Ways to Keep Your Coil Clean

After giving your evaporator coil a thorough cleaning, chances are you want it to stay clean. Here are a few tips you can use for prevention.

  • Change your air filter regularly. It's a simple, yet constantly overlooked step that can keep your evaporator coil in good shape. Most experts recommend changing your air filter at least once every 3 months; although, monthly air filter changes are ideal for better indoor air quality.
  • Invest in an ultraviolet (UV) lamp. These lamps are specifically designed to help prevent mold and mildew growth on the evaporator coil. The UV-C radiation generated by these lamps has germicidal properties that disrupt the growth of mold and other microorganisms, keeping them from gaining a foothold on areas exposed to UV light.
  • Have a professional clean your duct system. It's no secret that your home's ductwork can harbor loads of dust and debris in addition to pet dander, mold spores and bacteria. Having your ducts cleaned on a regular basis not only helps keep the evaporator coil clean, but also it can improve your home's indoor air quality.

These tips can help you keep your evaporator coil in excellent shape, which in turn ensures excellent cooling performance from your A/C system. For more information on air conditioning repair, contact a local professional.

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28 December 2015

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